Great boards, Great Board members - Trustees' week

5 Nov 2020 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 17 Nov 2020

Trustees' Week logo

As part of Trustees' week 2020 we held a webinar on what makes and great board and becoming a great board member in partnership with BITC. It is part of a series of Skills Match webinars.

Now, more than ever, an effective and strong board is needed to navigate charities through these very uncertain times and Skills Match can help you find the skills and knowledge that you need for your board. You can register online and be matched with an individual to suit your needs and theirs.

Richard Armstrong from Arthur Cox gave an overview of what makes an effective board. Then Laura Hourican, Ian Henry and Olwen Lyner all shared their experiences of being board members of various organisations.

Top Tips for an effective board - Richard Armstrong, Arthur Cox

This webinar on 5 November 2020 started with a presentation from Richard Armstrong, Associate Partner , Arthur Cox on the roles and responsibilities of a board member including their legal duties. His six top tips were:

  1. Directors should be familiar with their statutory and constitutional duties and responsibilities
  2. Ensure that those on the Board (including the Chair) are right for your company/organisation
  3. Document decision making
  4. Continually evaluate Board performance – strive for better!
  5. Define the roles and responsibilities of those on the Board
  6. Seek out ways to maintain and develop your Directors’ skill base

Laura Hourican, Firstsource

Laura is Senior Vice-President Firstsource, board member of Koram Centre, Strabane. She described what motivated her to be part of the Koram Centre board and what was expected of board members.

Why I am a board member?

  • Passionate for supporting the cause
  • Skills and knowledge to support the centre's needs
  • Providing me with a broader experience
  • Learning from others
  • Because I care


  • Time
  • Energy
  • Only commit if you can
  • Expect the unexpected

Ian Henry, Henry Brothers

Ian is a Director in Henry Brothers and a board member of Magherafelt chamber of commerce and NI chamber of commerce as well as school PTA. He shared what he has given and received from being a board member.

Being a board member -

  • Need to have time for board meetings
  • Need to be committed
  • Listening to others advice
  • Great way to learn and expand knowledge from other people
  • Learn about decision making


  • Taking responsibility
  • Making tough decisions at times
  • Collaborating
  • Creative thinking
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Advising and challenging
  • Representing the organisation – be aware of reputation

Olwen Lyner, NIACRO

Olwen shared her experience of her board in NIACRO as well as being a board member of NICVA. She gave us some things to consider from both sides of the table so to speak.

  • New requirements may be a challenge
  • Diffcult decisions may have to be made
  • Need to have a welcome pack for board members
  • Evaluation of the board is very important
  • Take time to get to know each other on the board
  • There is real value of staff being on boards –it  builds skills, knowledge and confidence and is a good way to develop staff

Watch the recording:

Resources and links

DIY Committee Guide

NICVA governance and charity advice resources

Skills Match website

Boardroom Apprentice

Fundraising Regulator webinar on Trustee responsibilities's picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

Share your COVID-19 support service

Organisations providing support to people and communities can share their service information here

> Share your support

Not a NICVA member yet?

Save time, money and energy. Join NICVA and you’ll be connecting in to a strong network of local organisations focused on voluntary and community activity.

Join Us

NICVA now welcomes all small groups for free.